THE FSA, BEING DISBANDED BUT NOT GOING OUT OF BUSINESS
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne may be abolishing the Financial Services Authority, but the regulator is not going out of business. Rather, the UK market regulator is continuing with the new more aggressive posture it has adopted in recent years.
Yesterday, the regulator concluded another significant market abuse case as Enforcement Director Margaret Cole discussed the importance of not disrupting on-going cases of the agency despite the pronouncement from the Chancellor. Former AKO Capital LLP hedge fund and risk manager Anjam Saeed Ahmad was sentenced yesterday in the FSA’s latest insider dealing case. The regulator alleged that between May and August 2009 Mr. Ahmad conspired with another person to trade in the securities of at least nineteen different issuers based on inside information. That information concerned planned transactions by AKO in the securities of the companies.
Mr. Ahmad pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit insider dealing. Part of the plea agreement called for the confiscation of about $150,000. Another charge of insider dealing was not brought. As part of the plea arrangement, Mr. Ahmad agreed to cooperate with the FSA in prosecuting the co-conspirator. This is the first cooperation agreement by the FSA under the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act.
In view of the plea agreement, and his cooperation, the court sentenced Mr. Ahmad to ten months in prison, suspended for two years, 300 hours of unpaid work for the community and a fie of about $75,000. In handing down the sentence, the court noted that it is only because of the swift cooperation with the FSA that Mr. Ahmad was not immediately confined to prison.
In commenting on Mr. Ahmad’s case, Enforcement Director Cole emphasized the importance of not disrupting the cases the agency has in the pipeline. The action against Mr. Ahmad is the most recent in a crackdown on market abuse by the FSA. Since instituting that crackdown, the regulator has brought a series of criminal cases and imposed a number of large fines. The FSA is currently prosecuting eleven other persons for insider dealing. The agency also anticipates that the first ever cooperation agreement used here will encourage others to step forward and assist with other inquiries.
To ensure that the pending FSA cases will not be disrupted, the market abuse unit at the agency will be transferred to the U.K. Serious Fraud Office and the Office of Fair Trading to create an economic crime agency. Thus, while the FSA is being disbanded, its crackdown on insider dealing will apparently continue and perhaps be aided by more cooperation agreements.